Unavailable.

Throughout the semester we have covered a wide range of topics but in all of them we always seemed to return the topic of availability. We question time and time again that in this day in age is it possible to be unavailable? And what does it actually mean to be unavailable in a world where not being able to reach someone is a sign of tardiness and carelessness.

When thinking of a possible project idea I focused on three main topics that interests me:

  1. Availability
  2. Attention structures
  3. Participation

After focusing in on these three topics I came to realize that they each play a part in tackling the question of, “Do we have the ability to ever become completely unavailable? ” First of all, availability is by far one of the biggest affordances and constraints of the internet. Social media has allowed us to constantly be in touch. We can tag, track, and see when we’ve read each other’s messages. All of these affordances have in a way lead us to always be online even when we aren’t. Being available online means you are expected to participate in conversation both personal and global. As an individual of an online community you have the responsibility to share, comment and create and if you do not you are therefore doing that community a disservice. Your participation is always needed and wanted on both your and your audiences’ end. This want and need to participate ultimately allows us to choose whether we are or are not available.  It also means that you are aware of what is going on around you and you are in a way forced to take part or else you are “creeping”.  Being available has also had an impact in the way we divide our attention. What we focus on and how we focus on these things ultimately effects our participation and our availability. These three concepts all interact and interfere with our ability to actually disconnect and become unavailable in a world that demands availability.

For this project I propose an experiment in which I will purposely disconnect myself from all social media sites that I participate in for two weeks. In those two weeks I will vlog, blog, and capture photographs daily about how I am dealing with not being available online. In tracking this I want to highlight the shift in myself and the transition from an avid online user to someone who has become “unavailable” which will be captured daily via video interviews. Secondly, by conducting research that almost entirely embarks on the premise of availability and the affordances and constraints it entails I will try to also highlight the psychological effects this disconnect has upon an individual such as anxiety, worry, detachment etc.  I hope to  to demonstrate that availability has changed our wants,needs, and interpretations of people, persons, and things. I also hope to answer the question of if we are truly able to become unavailable or not.

Possible questions:

  1. How are you feeling today without your online presence?
  2. Have you noticed a change in yourself?
  3. How has your relationship with your smart device changed?
  4. What will you or have you done to replace the time you spent being available online?
  5. What other activities have you been participating in?
  6. How has your attention shifted? Has it shifted?

Research Materials (thus far):

Cohen & Kenny

Jones & Hanfer

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/profile-unavailable-mean-facebook-72521.html

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/unplug-please/

http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/challenge-to-disconnect/

 

One thought on “Unavailable.

  1. Thanks Mariah for this post. I like how you are honing in on the mandate to participate, share, and create always (something constantly mentioned in our readings, especially the Cohen & Kenny), and you propose a really fascinating experiment, one which I believe can offer you a very new perspective on being connected in a digital era (especially because you have repeatedly said in class that it’s really difficult for you to disconnect & live without internet / social media / etc.).

    I do have a few questions / hesitations about this project, however:

    1. If you’re planning to engage with various media (blogs, vlogs, photographs), how is this a true disconnect? Are you suggesting that you will not disconnect from the media themselves or the tools (computers, cell phones, etc.), but that you will disconnect from the networked nature of the digital landscape (social media, etc.)? It is possible to truly conduct this experiment in the way you propose? Won’t you still be checking email (if only for work, school) and using your cell phone to connect with family and friends?

    2. Since most of this proposal is (interesting, helpful) framing, and only one short paragraph laying out the actual project, I don’t have a sense of what additional research you will conduct (beyond observing yourself and your experiences disconnecting), how you will present this project on your ePortfolio, and how you will engage in reflection throughout. It seems like you are proposing a series of multimodal, new media reflections, which is great, but a large part of the project actually takes you a way from the type of new media experimentation that is a core focus / requirement of the project.

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